Ervin Santana free agency: Who's 'driving the sudden turn' in his market?

Otto Greule Jr

We know a little bit about who it isn't, so who is it?

Ervin Santana almost signed with the Blue Jays last weekend, but an unknown team has jumped into the mix and caused the market to escalate, according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi

We know a little bit about who it isn't, but not exactly who it is.

The Jays aren't the culprits. They're still sitting back in hopes of pouncing on a bargain.

The Orioles aren't the drivers either, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.

About 1,500 tweets ago, another ESPN Twitterer, Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis, listed the O's, Mariners, Dodgers, Indians and Yankees as teams that have inquired on Santana over the last few days.

That leaves a list of the Yankees, Dodgers, Indians and Mariners.

The Yankees could be making a push, despite their insistence that they were finished making big moves after landing Masahiro Tanaka. However, New York tends to make its decisions rather quickly. If the Yankees were the team accelerating the market, Santana might already be in pinstripes.

The Dodgers just added Paul Maholm, and they already have about a dozen pitchers with designs on the rotation, so they might not be ready to surrender their first-round pick just to further muddy up their pitching staff. Of course, given some of their bold moves this offseason, it's hard to completely count them out.

The Indians would be better served to bring back Ubaldo Jimenez in order to keep their original first-rounder. They could be the drivers, but signing Santana over Jimenez would cost them about 10 spots in the 2014 draft and between $300,000 and $500,000 in terms of slot recommendation value. That amount of money might not seem like a lot in baseball's hallucinatory economy, but a team's total budget for the draft is largely derived from the league-assigned slot values. In other words, forfeiting $300,000 of their budget is the equivalent of forfeiting their fifth- or sixth-round pick. The incentive to do so would need to be significant, and the general consensus seems to indicate that Santana and Jimenez have similar value in the current market. Cleveland might not be overly concerned by making its selection 10 picks later, but the injury to its budget might be too much to gamble on Santana. Inversely, if the Indians choose not to sign either pitcher, their budget will be even more flexible next June.

The Mariners' rotation will rely heavily on some young arms if they don't make another addition. They just spent $14 million on Fernando Rodney, but they might have enough of a surplus left over to make a run at Santana. Their first-round pick is protected and they already forfeited their second-rounder by signing Robinson Cano. If one team is exacerbating the market for Ervin Santana, it might just be the M's. General manager Jack Zduriencik has been given the public green light from new team president Kevin Mather.

Mather said Zduriencik sought the flexibility to explore possible additions, and he does have that. How that money is spent, and if it is spent, will be up to Zduriencik.  Jack Zduriencik is in charge of the baseball club. I think the president’s role is to provide resources… - Bob Dutton, Seattle Times

Nothing is imminent simply because these teams have been in contact with Santana's camp, but the proximity of spring training and the recent surge of activity could finally result in a deal for one of the best pitchers available.

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